Companies Court Custom Channel

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Select suppliers have begun to court the custom channel with greater vigor.

Onkyo and speaker supplier Thiel, for example, went to the CEDIA Expo with their first products designed expressly for custom-install applications. And Harman International announced the creation of a cross-brand group whose mission is to make Harman's consumer brands more responsive to the needs of custom installers.

The new custom group will counsel Harman brands on designing more custom-friendly products and programs, but its mission also includes the creation of a one-stop shop where authorized installers can buy products from multiple Harman brands.

The group, headed by ex-installer and Harman alumnus Jeff Kussard, will also develop an Extranet that installers can use as an engineering and documentation resource to design systems.

Each Harman brand will continue to make its own decisions about products, distribution, and marketing and service policies.

At Thiel, the company's first in-wall speaker and first surface-mount speaker were unveiled, both featuring two-way coincident driver designs.

The surface-mount Power Point speakers, at $1,300 each, use angled enclosures to make them suitable for surround use when mounted on a ceiling and for main left-right use when mounted on the walls to the side of an A/V system.

The Power Plane in-walls, at $1,200 each, come with a back box to deliver predictable response, reduce wall vibrations, and reduce sound transfer to the room behind the speaker, the company said.

Onkyo's contribution to the channel is the new Integra Research brand of products developed in consultation with installers. -- Joseph Palenchar

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